Maghrebian women : between clichés and fantasy

credits : Azeema Mag

credits : Azeema Mag

Through this article, my wish isn’t to make it look like the North African woman is a victim that only complains. My goal is to denounce a problem that arises in our current civilization. I’ve been living in France for 15 years now, and I also lived one year in Belgium. Despite the borders, people’s vision of us, North African women, is very similar.

The image which stands out the most, or at least which mark our minds the most is the beurette’s one (which is like the word “ratchet” but for arab girls) : a shell lacking of virtues and overflowing with vices with no professional ambitions and who bets her future on a more or less arranged marriage. This type of woman is considered as the pariah of two societies with high contrasts, the occidental and the oriental civilizations. They are pushed on all the sides, except maybe by the same men who insult them all day long and play a totally different game after dark…

Many actors are responsible of this image’s spreading: rappers (videos and lyrics included), the oriental society (all sexes included)… but to me the ones who express it the most are the North African men. It may be linked to their education, or their family model in which they grew up, the one that is sold to them as ideal - obedient housewife raising their kids and rarely going outside. Maybe North African women that are a little bit westernized would serve them as scapegoats. Maybe it’s linked to the fact that society and French institutions reject them, so to support this social exclusion, they feel better when they themselves reject a part of the population (i.e N.A women). I am not a therapist, I am not saying that everything I say is true, nonetheless I feel the need of understanding it to help and defend my image.

First results when we look out for “beurette” on Google

First results when we look out for “beurette” on Google

Indeed, some North African women correspond to this reputation, however they represent a very small part of our community. Unfortunately, we are all treated as the model returned by the term “beurette” and we even surprise ourselves by feeling happy when a Caucasian says “It’s crazy when I speak with you it feels like I’m not talking to an arab” - meaning North African woman. I then allow myself to set the record straight: North African women are very different depending on their education, their crowd, their ambitions and their personal aspirations. Many of us enjoy to be in a free society to drink, have fun in the club, and to live a good life… But many more of us enjoy their right to go to school and be cultivated - which is not the case in many Arab and African countries - and lead impressive, both personal and professional projects. Though, do not believe that a strict border between the two types of women I wrote about above exist, a lot of us find themselves in between these two types.

What we go through is linked to a prejudice that got developed around our ethnic origin. Derogatory comments that are not justified come from all sides: strangers, members of our community, relatives and even family, These women, victim of these intolerant behaviors, can develop ill-beings, anxious disorders, some of them even go through suicidal crisis. What they go through every single day isn’t recognized by the common conscience, which is bad because when a person with an ill-being stays in the indifference, this bad feeling develop itself again and again. Black women go through the same prejudices as us and developed a respectable movement: Afro feminism. I think it’s time for North African and Arab women to unite so they can listen to each others, support each others, and take the mentalities forward. It would be beneficial for the entire world to live in a world of peace and tolerance.

written by Kawter, translated by Mathis